Photography: Evan Clark
Not for republication.
Every time Royz makes their way up to Aomori I’m impressed. I’m impressed by the ever-growing turnout, by the evolution of their sound with each new release, and of course by the boundless energy put to good use on stage. It wasn’t a hard decision to spend Halloween with the band at Quarter knowing that everyone would be in for a good time – and given the holiday, I could only speculate how the live might be different from their typical one-man show.
For those who have never seen Mix Speaker’s,Inc. perform, it can be a very difficult image to paint, though perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is a difficult world to craft. What makes Mix Speaker’s,Inc. unique, even among the countless visual kei bands who incorporate so many degrees of theatrics and themes into their image and music, is the degree to which their visuals and audibles meld to create a truly all-encompassing stage show that transports you to another dimension where you are watching a marvelous fairy tale unfold.
Each member of the band plays a certain archetypal role through many incarnations, like Cloud Atlas through the scope of VK. seek (ba) is always a monster, on this occasion a red tentacled octopus that could have come straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean; AYA (gu), despite boyish charm, tends to play the part of a princess; Keiji (gu), a warrior or soldier, this time with a seahorse theme; and S (dr) tends to be a wild card but with one thing in common: he is always something cute and often something squishy. The dueling vocalists, Yuki and Miki, tend to play complementary roles, with Miki the darker, “evil” twin and Yuki the innocent, angelic twin.
Despite opening to a modest crowd, all eagerly huddled around the stage — filling not even a quarter of the spacious Main Events room –, the band ascended the stage, all smiles, emitting a pure and sincere energy that captivated and mesmerized the audience, reaching beyond the room in such a way that, soon enough, that crowd of about a hundred doubled in size. Through the course of the evening, fans continued to dwindle in, drawn in by the energy and pure spectacle of a band that, appropriate for an anime convention, had some truly envious costumes and master role-playing skills.
Follow the jump for a detailed report and pictures!
Today, we bring you the finale.
Here’s a band you’ve never heard of with some of the most obscure member names you’ve probably ever heard. But kiss my way was merely a session band – and we say ‘merely’ in the lightest sense. You’re probably more familiar with them than you know. Primarily, considering the Chemical Pictures tie-ins sprinkled into the event, it should be no surprise that Shiratori Yuuichi, also known as Taira Kazuhiro, is also known as Tenten of Chemical Pictures fame. And, it was his birthday.
There was a bit of theatrics when the group took the stage. In coordinated suits, ties, and shutter shades, they entered marching in a row and put on a little show of robot-like choreography. It was short and sweet, though, so the band could launch into their first song.
The first two songs, covers of SiM and KuRt tracks, were expectedly heavy and fit in beautifully with the ongoing theme of loud, hard rock for the evening, with one difference: Yuuichi’s voice was phenomenal. He simply blew the other vocalists out of the water in terms of power and charisma. It was difficult to watch the other members on stage even though they were thrashing and bobbing right along with the music, too. Yuuichi just has too much power and command.
Absolutely reveling in his stage time, he threw a long MC into the middle of their set during which the audience sang happy birthday to him and the birthday-boy venue staff. He spat water at his band mates, danced around, and did nothing less than make a good time of it for everyone.
Largely uncommon for session bands, the next song, “Jisaboke”, had been written fresh just for this live. The song was starkly different from anything heard so far in the entire lineup as it was emotional but not a ballad; mellow but not slow. Simply put, it was shades tamer than the raucous tracks laid out the rest of the live.
It was the performance of “Doubutsu Party”, however, that made this night – and this session – one to remember. Yuuichi paused halfway through the song to separate the crowd right down the middle, half and half, facing each other with a considerable gap between sides. Anyone who has been to a metal show in the West might be familiar with this move, the “wall of death”.
But virtually a split second before the command to have the walls collide, the instrumentalists cut the music, and from the side of the stage a man dressed as the Grim Reaper brought Yuuichi a birthday cake. He was quick to smear it on his band mates’ faces before thanking everyone—and the song continued.
On cue, Yuuichi had the two sides of the crowd run at each other in something resembling a scene from Braveheart, slamming wall into wall. He did it again. And again. At times, he all but dragged in members from other bands had them stand in the center while the walls collided with and around them. After making the frenzied audience crash into one another several times, they concluded the song, and everyone was able to take a little time to breathe.
The encore calls began quickly, however, encouraged by the Grim Reaper as well, and it took very little time for kiss my way to return.
“Pretty Joke” was something to write home about, a number that began deceptively upbeat only to fly into loud, harsh, screaming insanity – with a pretty, melodic chorus. The crowd ate it up and even Death was grooving along at the side of the stage.
When it was all over, finally all over, the band aptly took their time clearing the stage, just as the fans took their time getting in their last-minute merchandise buys and clearing the venue.
1. キリングミー (Killing Me) / SiM
2. さらばバンビ (Saraba Bambi) / KuRt
3. 時差ボケ (Jisaboke)
4. どうぶつパーティー (Doubutsu Party)
En.1. プリティージョーク(Pretty Joke) / hone-kari
This has been your look into the world of visual kei event lives! As you can see, there’s a lot to look forward to and a lot to learn. If you’re ever over in Japan with an evening to kill because none of your favorite bands happen to be playing, it’s worth the time and money to go scope out one of the many, many event lives that happen every night all over Tokyo – and other major cities. You never know what you’ll find.
From the Hysteric Circus page: “We… formed and began activity in January 2012. We’re rapid-firing compositions with an exceptionally-aggressive band sound and catchy vocal melodies.” Though GALEYD hasn’t been around long itself, its members certainly have. Miku played as Schwarz in Chemical Pictures and aim, Toki and Nikky were also in aim as Sakura and Shota, respectively, and Garo was once JILL of Hi:BRiD fame.
The self-introduction of the band describes them to a T. Something peculiar happens at a live house when a band that’s as good as it claims to be prepares to take the stage, and it’s something we witnessed that night: the crowd thickened exponentially, and what was more interesting was that it thickened with male concert-goers. This is a rare phenomenon at your average event live, and it means something big is about to happen. GALEYD was precisely that big thing.
We were brought back to a more standard visual kei outfit style as the four-member unit took the stage to a Gregorian-esque SE, and a sense of tension hung in the air. Any sense of calm was shattered when their first speedy number, “Crimson Chain”, kicked off with rapid-fire drumming. By the time they finished the crowd was the epitome of excited and GALEYD didn’t fail to deliver in its solid and hard-hitting set. Meku was an absolute wonder, interacting with the crowd alongside Garo, but more importantly tearing up his guitar with blazing solos and galloping riffs.
Easily the favorite band thus so far and undeniably the most violent of the entire lineup, GALEYD is only 8 months into their career and has already rightfully gained a significant following. If you’re into wicked guitar and violent but melodious speed metal, they might be your next favorite, too.
1. Crimson Chain
2. Hysteric Liar
GALEYD OHP: http://www.galeyd.com/
Act 5: SCAPEGOAT
(Vocals: Haru, Guitar: Sayura, Guitar: Katsuki, Bass: Layha, Drums: Tatsuki)
SCAPEGOAT’s Hysteric Circus self-introduction is a bit longer than the others: “Music that incorporates various styles like rock, loud [rock], screamo, pop, and digital, with a band sound that can’t be pigeonholed or easily categorized. Continuing a nonstop evolution, a soundscape painted by emotional ‘life’ and ‘death’ [themes]. From that world, performing more pronounced and incidentally harshly, transiently and melodiously, messages fired off by Haru, with an unparalleled unique voice. With five unique members which become one, lives are stimulating and impossible to predict… The full impact will shake and stir your emotions.”
The band entered rapidly to danceable electronica, wearing sparkling blue costumes that made them stand out as the flashiest band of the evening, though this presentation might bring fans to deign them as the ‘most visual kei band’ there. In fact, their set fell into a similar generic standard of what modern visual kei is.
That’s not to say they weren’t good on stage. As described above, they certainly added some variety to the lineup of the evening, though it was clear that they selected heavier songs from their repertoire to compete with the other bands. And they were absolutely heavy. “108˚C-Gauge-” boasted brutal drums and bass that you could feel in your bones, and throughout the set the members’ performances were spot-on. Haru and Layha were particularly talented when it came to riling up the crowd, and smiles abounded for the whole energetic band. While visually they might have looked more timid with their shiny costumes and charming grins, they brought the heat necessary to mesh with the rest of the lineup.
During their brief MC, Haru congratulated a certain someone on his birthday, which will bring us to the final band of the show…
2. parasite glamor
4. deletion noise
SCAPEGOAT OHP: http://www.scapegoat-website.com/
The best is yet to come tomorrow, when we conclude this report with part 4!
Did you read Part 1 yesterday?
Act 2: Rubik
(Vocals: Kei, Guitar: Shion, Guitar: Takebou, Bass: Kou, Drums: Yuri)
Rubik introduces itself with the idea “On a foundation of the sounds of heartrending melodies and rock, Rubik performs music to sell a sense of identity at lives” (from ViSULOG’s event page). Having begun activities in 2006 marked them as the oldest band at the event.
Entering to heavy-bass electronica, the second band up gave off a different aura than the first act in appearance alone; an undeniably harder image presented itself in the form of leather and studs. Shion seemed to garner just as much excitement from their fans as Kei upon entering, an unusual occurrence for most small bands. It was clear from the start, however, that even though Rubik is a bit of an underdog they have a solid following.
The four-song set began with two songs off of the band’s only two released singles, “under the mind” from “Red Impulse”, and “I think” from “Pulse of Black”. The former began with a killer drum line and came sprinkled with guttural supporting screams from Kou which might have even trumped Kei’s own, whereas the band got a bit heavier and more physically active on stage with “I think”.
Despite how much popularity seemed to all but radiate from Shion and Kei, from our humble perspective, Kou stole the show. He was active in interacting with fans, moved around the stage, screamed and head banged and generally rocked his way through the set list. Regardless, the band as a whole was a nice addition to the lineup of heavy acts, and there was much more to come.
1. I think
2. under the mind
4. 喰ラエバ儚ク… (Kuraeba Hakanaku…)
Rubik OHP: http://www.rubik-web.com/
Act 3: DOPES.
(Vocals: Narumi, Guitar: Kai, Bass: Masato, Drums: Ryo)
From the Hysteric Circus page: “For those meeting us for the first time, it’s nice to meet you. And, for those who know us, please give us your best. We are DOPES., giving richness to life. From harsh songs to heartrending songs, we are an expansive band, so please come see us live!” DOPES. began in early 2011, and you may know Kai as an ex-member of LiZ.
The first of two four-person bands in the lineup, they brought something different to the stage in terms of looks that set them apart from any other band that evening: they were the least-visual band at the event. This certainly wasn’t a strike against them, as their casual black-and-white duds suited their equally casual performance style and was still more dressed-up than the jeans-and-t-shirt rock standard of the West.
Musically, they were fast-paced and chock full of backup vocals, which can be a refreshing change from bands which opt for backtracks instead of live backup. The set began with “NAKED”, the title track of their fourth single, and the set list was sprinkled with songs from different eras of their somewhat robust discography. Each song played had already been released aside from “EXPLOSION”, which only recently came out on the band’s first full album, “DOPE.-ism”, on August 1st. That said, the band seemed excited to play the song and even evoked a tame dog-pile in the front of the crowd.
It’s safe to say that by the time DOPES. played the precedent had been set for the style of music we would continue to witness at the show, and it would also be safe to say that the bands were only getting stronger as we moved through the lineup.
2. LILY OF THE VALLEY
5. PRICE OF SCAR
DOPES. OHP: http://dopes-dhm.com
Part 3 will drop tomorrow with GALEYD and SCAPEGOAT!
Maybe you’ve heard of event lives. Maybe you’ve even been to one. Event lives, in Japan, are concert ‘events’ sponsored by a promoter, live house, or band, and typically have more bands playing than you can count on one hand. They are the starting point for bands too small for one mans, and the regular fare for bigger bands that only play occasional one mans. Saying that they are simply multi-band lives understates just what kind of strange beasts these shows are. They give us session bands, hours and hours of programming time, and an extraordinary amount of unwritten rules that seem pre-programmed into attendees.
They can be confusing or long and tiring, but there are some big pros to these shows. For less than the cost of a one man live ticket you can see all kinds of bands; there are event lives with several bands that have a similar sound, but there are also shows with a wide variety of visual artists. Because you don’t only get to hear a band’s music, but get to see their visuals, event lives could be the very best way to discover your next favorite visual kei band.
On July 20th, 2012, Shattered-Tranquility.net dared to venture out into the wilds of Tokyo in pursuit of an event live experience to share with our readers. Ikebukuro EDGE hosted our chosen live – ViSULOG’s “HYSTERIC CIRCUS Extra Volume”.
Let’s dive right in.
Act 1: 大日本黒鶏主義者連盟 (Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei)
(Vocals: Jojo, Guitar: Hikaru, Bass: Andy, Drums: Kaede, Support Guitar: Wajou)
Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei isn’t a regular band, but rather a unit of members of THE GALLO with a support guitarist to replace their recently-departed Lulu, playing under the guise of a session band. With no prior announcement about the support member or just why they chose to play under a pseudonym, there was no telling what to expect. Instead of their usual costumes, the band entered in the black suits which they typically wear for in-store events, and after the SE, began their first song immediately – 「黒鶏論-破壊編-」 (“Kokkeiron -hakaihen-”), the lead track off of their latest mini album.
Despite being the opening band, Dainihon brought the heat. Their heavy bass lines and skilled drumming stayed prevalent throughout the set, with the members giving their all and hardly looking like a session band. Jojo, with his crooked hold of the microphone, crooned and cried out his parts laced with his own utterly unique vibrato, while animated guitarist Hikaru made his usual wild faces at the crowd when he wasn’t head banging all over the stage.
The band brought a surprise in the middle of their set list with a cover of Chemical Pictures’s 「おぼれる魚」 (“Oboreru Sakana”) in tribute to the vocalist of the final band of the evening (more on that later).
With a set full of energy and band members clearly more than happy to be on stage for the first time in over a month, Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei set a good tone for the bands to come and did the first act’s job of getting the audience ready for more quite well.
1. 黒鶏論-破壊編- (Kokkeiron -hakaihen-)
2. 死神 (Shinigami)
3. おぼれる魚 (Oboreru Sakana) / Chemical Pictures
4. 曲芸師 (Kyokugeishi)
5. 大日本黒鶏主義者聯盟行進曲ホ短調 (Dainihon Kokkei Shugisha Renmei Koushinkyoku Ho Tanchou)
THE GALLO OHP: http://www.9allo.com
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow, featuring Rubik and DOPES.!
Photography: Ku, Chiva, & K
Not for republication.
Saturday, July 14, 2012 –
It’s been three months since we last visited Royz at Aomori Quarter. It’s been only three months, and the ever-active band is already back in action on a countrywide tour, “The Space of ‘6’ HEAVENS”, spurred by their latest single, “Starry HEAVEN” (6.27.2012).
Despite such a short absence from the northernmost prefecture on Honshū, the venue started rapidly filling when the doors opened at 5 p.m., and kept on going until the show would begin at 6 p.m. The atmosphere in the venue was nothing short of high-tension, evidenced by the way the crowd started paying attention and even giving a few cheers when just the slightest sounds of tuning instruments could be heard on the other side of the curtain. Attendance was high for a visual kei live, and was in fact surprisingly higher than their last performance in Aomori in April.
The reason might just be what we witnessed last time – a 2-hour live full of non-stop action and energy from a very flashy, catchy visual band. (more…)
Photography: Ku & K
Not for republication.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 –
There aren’t many live houses in Aomori Prefecture that regularly bring in visual kei bands. The reason is simple: out in such a remote area of Japan, far from the packed live house crowds of Tokyo or Osaka, Aomori just doesn’t have as many fans of the niche genre. Quarter, however, probably sees the most traffic for touring visual kei acts in the prefecture. Though it rarely sells out attendance is never particularly low, and in a city which sees so few visual acts, the bands are always received with ample enthusiasm.
This was also the case for Royz, despite the live occurring on a Wednesday night. The moment doors opened to bring fans in from the cold, there was a rush to the barricade and excited chatter abound. (more…)
Article and photography by Juri
Concert Notations by Ku
Not for republication.
It was barely 6PM before fans and non-fans but curious attendees alike would begin to conglomerate into what would become a mega-sized line outside the main stage queue area. Yes, people were lining up to go line up! Tonight’s show had attracted many people from other cities, other states, other countries and even other continents.
Although lineups in the main stage queue area was not scheduled until 6:30PM, with the threat of a growing line that would obstruct traffic, people were let in early. Soon enough, the main stage queue area was flooded with fans of Kanon Wakeshima and Moi Dix Mois, and even Sakura-con attendees who weren’t fans but interested. As more people came in, the excitement built up. The tension and anticipation built up with every passing minute. The show was scheduled to be at 7PM, however, it started late at 7:45. (more…)
Article by Ku.
Photography courtesy & copyright Midi:Nette.
Not for republication.
Saturday, April 7th, 2012 –
Kanon Wakeshima had just left the stage and cries for her encore began to taper off as it settled in that the next band was already preparing to take the stage. Sakura-Con’s most prominent visual kei guest so far came to perform this year; though it wouldn’t be Moi dix Mois’s first performance in the United States, it would still be something to write home about. Attendees could feel it. Despite the stage clearing of Kanon’s equipment, the crowd in the pit actually thickened in anticipation while ominous warnings of a strict no-photography policy echoed through the hall. This didn’t seem to deter anyone from crowding in to see the main event.